Friday, 13 September 2013

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore...(Part Un)

Hi everyone,

I guess I can only start this post with a massive apology, as I haven't updated this since May! In my defense, my laptop has been on the fritz, so I've been unable to connect my camera for most of the summer... However! I am now 2 weeks in to my study placement in France, and have managed to discover a way in which I can scavenge some photos from my camera's SD card. I can't access my photos from Aus yet, simply because of the sheer volume of them, but rest assured they will be forthcoming (soon, hopefully!). Although I did add this photo from my phone of Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island, just to give you a taster...

So without further adieu, let's get on to what's happening now/in the last 2 weeks in France. As I said in my last video, I'd decided against halls, and wanted to search out my own accommodation, which was fine - until it got to the day before I left, and I still hadn't found anything! Most of the landlords were wary of renting to an international student, or wanted me to see the property before laying down a deposit (not likely when I was in Australia!), so a few days before I left, I booked a hostel for a week, with the thought that I would get something sorted by the end of that first week.

Before I even got to France though, I ran in to disaster. I was booked to leave on a flight to Lyon at 11.35am, but I didn't reach the airport until 11.05am due to an accident on the M25, completely missing my baggage check-in and thus also missing my flight. Standing in the middle of Heathrow on the verge of tears, it kinda felt like the whole world was crashing down, and I almost decided that I definitely didn't want to face this big, scary year abroad when it had already gone horrifically wrong. But, I managed to buy a ticket on the next flight at 4pm, and although it meant waiting in Heathrow for 4 and a half hours, the relief when it was sorted definitely eased the wait a bit!

So I finally got out to France, and then got a shuttle bus from Lyon to Grenoble, then the tram (which runs throughout the city of Grenoble) down the the southern part of Grenoble, Échirolles, where I had a 20 minute walk (40 with 2 suitcases, hand luggage and a handbag) to where the hostel I was staying at was located. So finally, after leaving my house in Kent at just after 8am, at 10.45pm French time I got to my room at the hostel (I've put a few photos below of my room, which I shared with 3 others).

I was sleeping in the top bunk on the right.

Then, I just had to move on the next set of problems, finding somewhere to live when I had no student loan or funding, and dealing with French bureaucracy (I don't think I've ever been somewhere which loves paperwork as much as France...) But after finally getting to Grenoble, I felt kind of invincible so I thought it could be dealt with no problem, but I'll let you know how it went when I update again, with the next bit of  'Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore...'


Friday, 17 May 2013

Now Showing on a screen near you

Hi guys!

As promised, here is my first video for my blog! I hope you guys enjoy it, and let me know if you'd like me to post more in the future. It's just a general update about what's happening, so everyone knows where I'm at, at the moment. So without further adieu...

Let me know what you think!


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Life through rose-tinted lenses...

Hi guys!

So, guess what came early last week? I'll give you a clue...

If you said my camera, you'd be right! Obviously this photo was taken using my webcam, as it's pretty impossible to take photos of a camera using the camera itself. I haven't had much of a chance to go crazy taking pictures yet, although my new profile picture was taken using it!

I've been working almost non-stop at both of my jobs, plus there's been revision happening for my French and Spanish exams in between, so I've had almost no free time recently. It has been breaking my heart a little bit though, because as the weather has been so nice I've wanted nothing more than to go outside with my camera and get a bit snap-happy! Hopefully though, as my main French exam is now out the way, I'll have a spare couple of hours to run around in the sunshine.

(When it comes back, as the weather has now taken a turn for the worst. Typical...)

However, in other exciting news, I've decided that with my new camera I'm going to start a vlog, so expect my first post for that soon! I've already had one attempt, but after failing miserably at that one (both whilst filming and at editing), I figured I'd give it another go before I publish anything to cyberspace. So keep an eye out for Justine in the Wide World, coming to a Youtube channel near you soon...


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Money. money, money!

Excitement on the Australia front! After receiving my student loan on Monday, I purchased my ticket to go from London Heathrow to Townsville, Australia this summer! Leaving on the 16th of June (the day before my brother's birthday - sorry, Rob!), and returning on the 21st of August, that means 2 months of amazing Australian awesomeness! (Notice the alliteration? (; )

The only thing I'm having trouble wrapping my head round is the time differences... I leave the UK at 9.30pm on Sunday, but land in Oz at 2.15pm on Tuesday, even though the total travel time is only 31.5 hours. For example, when I fly from London to Dubai (the first stop), it's 6 hours on the plane, but I land at 7.20am, 10 hours later. Bizarre.

Also, in other news, my shiny new Panasonic Lumix G3 camera is winging its way towards me as we speak, so expect a post soon expounding on how fantastic it is! It's an early 21st birthday gift from my lovely maternal grandparents, so much love and gratefulness to them for funding my bombardment of pictures that is sure to follow! Plus, on the subject of thanking people, thanks to my amazing aunt and stupendous paternal grandparents for both helping to fund my flight to Oz, it was definitely appreciated! 

(On a side note, I don't think I've ever spent that much money that quickly - £1300 for a flight and a camera in 40 minutes!)

Finally, I've sent of my signed registration form for Grenoble, so I should hear back from them soon and be applying for accommodation pretty sharpish after. :)


p.s Sorry for the overuse of alliteration and adjectives in this one!

Friday, 19 April 2013

So I guess I'm not insane

Another update so soon after the last one! Everything is happening all at once!

I realized the other day, after receiving my confirmation of my place at Grenoble, that I hadn't applied for my visa to travel into Australia. What followed was a massive flurry of panic, when I worried that I wouldn't have enough time to apply and get my visa approved before I would buy my flight tickets! Luckily, when I researched on the Australian visa site, the visa I needed was all done online, and only took between 2 and 10 days to approve. After applying on Wednesday lunchtime, I got my email today stating that I had been approved for my eVisitor visa, so I'm golden to travel to Oz! (They must have decided that I didn't have a dodgy record, and didn't look shifty enough to deny entrance.)


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

And we're away!

So excitement abounds today, as I finally heard from Stendhal université, Grenoble!

I've been religiously checking my university email inbox what seems to be a hundred times a day since straight after Easter, and finally (after two weeks) it has happened! I was on my break at work when I saw the email, so I couldn't exactly jump out my seat and spontaneously start dancing, but I was so close to it. I haven't really stopped grinning since. The only downside is that it signifies more paperwork, as I have to fill out more forms for Stendhal, and as I now have my confirmation email, I sort out my application for my student finance loans for next year.

Yay for paperwork! Ugh.

On the camera front, I think I've basically decided on a Panasonic Lumix G3 - smaller and lighter than a DSLR, but still with interchangeable lenses and more flexibility than a simple point and shoot. Plus, it's not as expensive as others I've looked at, and has a decent pixel count. Now just to find it cheap...


Thursday, 4 April 2013

The French are slow...

... which is really no surprise!

I'm waiting to hear back from Grenoble at the moment, before I can really start planning all the stuff involved with my year abroad. The problem is, I haven't heard anything! Thus the lack of updates on here - I've had nothing new to report. :(

It's been the same on the Australia front as well - I know when I'll be buying my tickets (ie. when I'll be able to afford it) and the approximate dates of when I'll be out there (depending on when is cheapest), so now it's just a waiting game (notice how it all depends on monetary reasons - the joys of being a student!).

On a more pleasant note, I've been looking at DSLR cameras on eBay, so I'll have something to document everything going on over the next year. Plus, I'm home at the moment, with all the time in the world after handing in my last 2 essays of 2nd year, so I'm going to make the most of it. The little camera on my phone just isn't going to cut it this year! So, if anyone knows any places/websites that are good for cheap/second hand cameras, drop me a line. :)


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

And so it begins...

Today (well, yesterday, but I felt too ill to do it then) started all the paperwork and fuss that comes with a year abroad. The ERASMUS programme is great, and I definitely couldn't do my year abroad without the funding it provides, but, boy, do they love their paperwork! After being handed a file with about 20 different sheets of paper that all need to be signed and stamped by appropriate people at appropriate times at both my university, Exeter, and the international office at my host university, Grenoble, I can't say I'm looking forward to doing all of it. But it's only one small part of my year abroad, and there are going to be many other things to look forward to.

I also spent today researching things like accommodation and living costs in Grenoble on, which I can see becoming a staple in my life in the lead-up and during my year abroad! However, I'm not sure if looking stuff up has scared me more, or made me more excited. Reading about girls' experiences with 'les jeunes' and 'la racaille' has panicked me a little bit, but others haven't posted anything about it, so surely it can't be that bad? And reading about the skiing and cafés has put a little smile on my face. Any input or advice from anyone would be appreciated, whether you think it'll be helpful or not!


Monday, 25 February 2013

Hello World. Justine here.

Okay, so. Hello Internet! 

I've been meaning to start a blog or something along this line for a while, but my every other attempt has ended in either forgetting to post anything, or just plain forgetting my password after leaving it too long! But with everything that's gonna be happening over the next year and a bit, I want to track it, and let everyone know what's going on with me, no matter where I am in the world.

So what will be happening with me? Well, next year I'll be studying at Stendhal III, Université de Grenoble, in the Rhone-Alpes region of France, as part of my course as a French and Spanish lanuages student (excitement!). But before that, I'll be travelling even further afield, to Australia! (France isn't that far for me, really, as a UK citizen). My parents have just moved out there, so my plan for the summer is to head out there and see them, and spend my 2 months off hanging on beaches in Townsville, Queensland, Australia (even more excitement!).

But even before that I have visas and ERASMUS paperwork and accommodation and flights and travel to sort out, so this will be documenting that as well as my adventures and fun once I get out there! And you lucky people get to be a party to this, so enjoy the madness and the fun and the general shenanigans that'll be happening in my life over the next year and a bit.